There is great value to be found in second-hand shops.
I am a big fan of second-hand shopping, not only because it saves a lot of money, but also because it gives a new lease on life to older, unwanted items. This keeps resources in the ground and waste out of it, and that's something we should all be striving to do more of.
So you can imagine my delight when I glimpsed Trent Hamm's article called "12 things I've bought from second-hand stores in the past year" for The Simple Dollar. He, too, is a thrifting champion, and explained his list as a way to "give people the idea of what kind of value I find there."
I do the same thing, divulging my latest finds with glee to friends and family. Often they're surprised and doubtful, finding it hard to believe that such great stuff can be found at low prices, but inevitably tell me about their own visits to the thrift shop later on. Usually they're thrilled by what they find, too.
The point of this is that second-hand store are a treasure trove and should not be overlooked when you're in the market for something. Whether you take Hamm's approach and go only with a specific purpose, or if you're like me and poke around just to see what's there, you have nothing to lose by starting at a thrift store.
So, without further ado, here are 10 of the best second-hand items I've found in the past year (except for one, which remains my all-time greatest find from several years ago).
1. Bed sheets: Unless you want to spend hundreds of dollars on really nice, brand new bed sheets, a thrift store's linen section can be surprisingly great. Think of all the linen closets that have to be emptied and donated when people downsize or pass away. You can find great 100 percent cotton sheets in pristine condition very easily.
2. Baking pans: I don't think I've ever bought new baking pans because I can always find what I need at the thrift store. Just today, I picked up a glass pie plate for $1.25. In the past, I've found Pampered Chef baking pans and cookie sheets, as well as muffin tins, loaf pans, and glass 9x13 pans, probably for less than $20 in total.
3. Skates: You can't survive a Canadian winter without skates, and since my kids' feet grow at a rapid rate, the thrift store is the best place to shop. The hockey skates and figure skates that I find there are sufficient for our recreational purposes and cost under $5 apiece.
4. Down duvets: I have purchased two down-filled duvets in the past year, both immaculately white and unstained, for $15 each. Down duvets are not cheap when purchased new, and come with ethical concerns, so I was very happy to find these.
5. Leather jacket: I'd been looking for a second-hand leather jacket for years, not wanting to buy new for ethical and financial reasons, and suddenly I found it on a rack at Value Village. It fit perfectly and cost only $20. I wear it all the time.
6. Fancy dresses: Whenever I want a new dress for a wedding or other event, I visit the thrift store, where I can satisfy that craving without spending much at all. My latest treasure was a fabulous Michael Kors dress for $13.
7. Glassware: While getting ready for my husband's birthday bash last year, I realized we were running low on water glasses. I went to the thrift store and, five bucks later, had a large cardboard box filled with glasses. They didn't necessarily match, but it was even cheaper than buying disposable.
8. Books: I buy a lot of kids' books at the thrift store. This is not something I can plan ahead, but when I'm in the store, I peruse the rack quickly to see if there's anything interesting there. Usually there is, and it's only 25 cents.
9. Candles: I bet you didn't know you can buy loads of unused candles at a thrift store! They're often packaged in bags or even the unopened boxes in which they were originally sold. It's cheaper than new and that's where I get any tea lights or tapers I want.
10. Dining table: This was the best find of all. My husband and I had no dining table when we moved into our first house and we were hosting family for Easter. My mother went to the thrift store and came back to say she'd found a pine harvest table for $100. We bought it and carried it two blocks through town to our house, where it still sits and receives countless compliments.
What are your favorite thrift store finds?